China Beach: The Complete Series
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Vietnam War TV-Series Available on DVD
China Beach was a groundbreaking television show because, when it was introduced to viewers in 1988, most of the movies about the Vietnam War were fairly grisly affairs, ala Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. By comparison, this relatively-refreshing nighttime drama approached the conflict primarily from the unique perspective of nurses, doctors, Red Cross volunteers, civilian personnel and the wounded.
The series was set at the 510th Evacuation Hospital and R&R Center, aka the “Five and Dime,” a facility located in South Vietnam on a site referred to as China Beach. The program was widely praised by veterans for its verisimilitude, a reflection of the fact that it was based on real-life stories supplied by soldiers who had served in the conflict.
Among the stars appearing on the show over the course of its Emmy, Peabody and Golden Globes-winning run, were Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger and Ricki Lake, to name a few. But playing almost as big a role as the cast was its retro soundtrack, which featured 268 songs of the era, including hits by James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Aretha, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison.
Now, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the entire series is available for the first time ever, arriving on 21 DVDs and augmented by bonus items like a couple of China Beach keepsake dog tags and three complete scripts. Besides all 62 episodes, look for 10 hours of bonus material, all of which adds up to the perfect gift for any Vietnam War history buff, and better yet, one of those vets “still in Saigon,” as they say.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 59 hours, 13 minutes
Distributor: StarVista Entertainment / Time Life / Warner Brothers
DVD Extras: China Beach dog tags; 32-page collector’s book; over 10 hours of bonus features, including: episode commentaries; exclusive interviews; behind-the-scenes footage; reunion footage; deleted scenes; gag reel; roundtable discussions with cast and crew; and more.
To see a trailer China Beach, visit: